The main union in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has condemned today’s decision by ministers to go ahead with plans to close Llanelli Service Centre and the Jobcentres in Mountain Ash, Tredegar and Pyle.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) believes these closures will decimate services to the public and making it harder to access the services they need. The union says the decision also ignores the overwhelming Welsh response to the Department’s consultation on its plans and undermines the Welsh Government’s efforts to invest in a sustainable future for deprived communities in Wales.
PCS welcomes ministers’ abandonment of plans to relocate Porth Debt Centre staff to Caerphilly, which belatedly recognises that three quarters of staff would be unable to get from their home to Caerphilly in reasonable travelling time. Porth staff will now be relocated to an office in Tonypandy. Both Chris Bryant MP and Leanne Wood AM have been campaigning hard to support PCS members and stop the move of jobs out of the Rhondda.
Ministers are still, however, pursuing plans to transfer 1700 staff from Merthyr, Caerphilly, Newport, Cwmbran and Gabalfa to an unspecified location north of Cardiff. PCS will continue to oppose the plans to take much-needed jobs out of Valleys towns Valleys without considering the equality impact on our the long distances many staff already travel to get to work and the caring responsibilities that make it impossible for many to work further from home. The DWP risks losing experienced staff with decades of experience in helping the public.
PCS has also criticised plans to make all Corporate Centre staff in Wales, apart from those directly dealing with devolved issues, work out of one of the 7 hubs located in England, which are beyond reasonable daily travel, and highlighted the risk of compulsory, with so many staff unable to relocate to new workplaces.
The union has paid tribute to the support it has received from Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians, who share its commitment to retain jobs and services within local communities and retain the skills and expertise of members delivering vital support to the public.
PCS Wales Chair, Katrine Williams commented:
“PCS will continue to fight all office closures that adversely impact jobs and services to the public. The DWP should not be removing jobs and services from areas of high unemployment and threatening our members with the risk of redundancy. There is a massive amount of work and support that we need to deliver to the public and the best way to do this is with sites and our members based in the local communities.”